Jonathan: Sheep are allowed down from the hill grazings today, 15 October. The grazing regulations for Eriskay require all shareholders to open up their own crofts for other shareholders to graze. In theory this means all livestock are free to roam the island (below the hill fence), but in practice flocks tend to be hefted to certain areas. We’ll not be wanting our first lambs before beginning of April, so we have to keep our ewes and the ram fenced in (and apart) until beginning of November. We’ve got the ewes and ewe lambs in one field, the rams and ram lambs in another, across the road and out of sight!
Jonathan: Here’s Denise grading some of this year’s fleeces from our Hebridean sheep. Visitors coming into the garden are clearly bemused: they’ve seen lambing on TV, shearing perhaps for real, but clearly very few people get to see this aspect of working with sheep and wool.
And even fewer have seen wool grading being done in the midst of such chaos: this part of the garden is still something of a building site, though clearly some visitors see past that: one German lady today said that we had ‘ein klein stück Paradis!’ – which surely doesn’t need translation.
Jonathan: Handsome is as Handsome does, and he’s really done quite well, with 18 lambs born this spring from his 11 ewes (thanks to dreadful weather, three didn’t survive more than a few days). Officially he’s An Garradh Mor – Acarsaid, we just call him Handsome, and his 11 ewes clearly think he is just that! But we’ve got another good ram showing promise, so we’d decided some months ago to offer him for sale, and today was delivery day! All went well until he was let out of the trailer into a temporary enclosure in the garden ground of the new owner’s house, in Eochdar at the very north end of South Uist. Handsome hadn’t much experience of that particular kind of electric fence, so had no fear of it, and simply stepped straight through between the lines! His excuse: the garden needed a bit of weeding, and here he is tucking into some very juicy docks!